The Thomas Family of Parkersburg, Iowa, to be Honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at The 2010 ESPYs
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The 2010 ESPYs to be televised LIVE Wednesday, July 14 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN HD.
In an age when the country is bitterly divided over political, social, or moral issues, The 2010 ESPYs will celebrate the courage of one family’s capacity to forgive, even in the wake of their enormous personal loss. For more than 30 years, the Thomas and Becker families of Parkersburg, Iowa, were bonded together by church, school and their community, and the bond of these two families remains unbroken despite a tragic killing. In June 2009, high school football coach Ed Thomas was shot and killed in the football team’s weight room by 24-year old Mark Becker, one of his former players who had been released from psychiatric care despite severe problems. The Thomas family is the recipient of the 2010 Arthur Ashe Courage Award for their courage to forgive.
The Thomas family will accept the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at The 2010 ESPYs. Presented annually to individuals whose contributions transcend sports, the Ashe Award is the emotional pinnacle of the industry-wide sports celebration, which will be televised live Wednesday, July 14, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPNHD from Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles. The 2010 ESPYs will be hosted this year by Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” anchor and head writer Seth Meyers.
”Our family is humbled and honored to be selected as the Arthur Ashe Courage Award winner,” said Aaron Thomas, son of Ed Thomas. “To be mentioned in the same sentence as the past winners is more than anything our family could have imagined. This award is a great testament to the type of man my father was. We are merely following his example and what he would expect. Even through the toughest of times, we know how my dad would have handled the situation. We are humbled and honored to receive this award.”
“The Thomas family showed us how people can come together under extraordinary circumstances that would normally drive them apart,” said John Skipper, ESPN executive vice president, content. “For that reason, we honor the Thomas family as the recipient of the 2010 Arthur Ashe Courage Award.”
The family created a foundation, the Ed Thomas Family Foundation, in his honor.
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is presented each year to individuals whose contributions transcend sports. In 2009, President Nelson Mandela received the honor for his iconic gesture of wearing Springboks jersey and cap while presenting the 1995 Rugby World Cup trophy to the South African captain. His action helped to unite a previously divided nation through a shared passion for sport, further cementing the transition from apartheid to democracy. Recipients in 2008 were U.S. Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos who stunned the world in 1968 after winning gold and bronze medals at the Mexico City summer games; they bowed their heads and raised their black-gloved fists toward the sky as the national anthem played.
Past honorees include: Jim Valvano (1993); Steve Palermo (1994); Howard Cosell (1995); Loretta Claiborne (1996); Muhammad Ali (1997); Dean Smith (1998); Billie Jean King (1999); Dave Sanders (2000); Olympian Cathy Freeman (2001); Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick, four passengers who lost their lives September 11 on United Flight 93 (2002); Pat and Kevin Tillman (2003); Liberian-born soccer legend George Weah (2004); disabled athletes Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah and Jim MacLaren (2005); Afghan female athletes (2006); and Trevor Ringland and Dave Cullen for their work with PeacePlayers (2007).
The ESPYs gather top celebrities from sports and entertainment to commemorate the past year in sports by recognizing major sports achievements, reliving unforgettable moments and saluting the leading performers and performances. The 2010 ESPYs will recognize both sport-specific achievements, such as “Best MLB Player” and “Best WNBA Player,” and best-in-sport winners, such as “Best Team” or “Best Female Athlete” that pit nominees from different sports against each other. The ESPYs honor ESPN’s commitment to The V Foundation for Cancer Research, a partnership launched with the late Jim Valvano at the inaugural ESPYs in 1993.
Fans will determine the winners in all categories (except the Arthur Ashe Courage Award and other special awards) by voting online at http://www.espn.com/espys, ESPN Mobile Web at http://espn.mobi and, for the first time, at www.facebook.com/ESPN starting June 24 through July 10.
* For the third time in several years, a limited amount of ESPYs tickets are available for public purchase starting April 24 through www.ticketmaster.com.
Official ESPYs photos are available here.